Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Searching for Jerry Siegel

I wrote the first draft of Boys of Steel the picture book on May 3, 2004, but that wasn't the first format I envisioned for it. Ten years earlier, I began the process of writing a screenplay about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

I only began the process. I never began the writing.

My first step in 1994 was trying to contact Jerry, who was then still alive at age 80. I think I would have had better luck contacting him if he were already dead. I have no
séance experience, but it would have been easier to learn how to conduct one than to reach the Siegel family in those pre-Internet days.

I wrote a letter to a fine man named Dennis Dooley, who wrote the meticulously researched introductory essay in a little gem of a book called Superman at Fifty: The Persistence of a Legend. (Both its title and subtitle were followed by exclamation points, but I can't bear to use them here.) He responded with a letter dated 11/11/94 in which he wrote "I don't [think] anybody (including the mighty CBS) has had any luck in getting to Jerry for some years now. ... I'm afraid I can't be too encouraging." As some of you may already know, Jerry and Joe were involved with decades of litigation with DC Comics over Superman, so it was almost certain that even if I did reach Jerry, he would not have been able to comment.

So that one honest letter derailed my passion project. But only for ten years.

And since Jerry died in 1996 (four years after Joe), I will never know if I would have had their blessing, if not their participation. As for their families, that's a story for another post.

Sometime last year, I learned that Ilya Salkind, one of the producers of Superman: The Movie, was planning a biopic on Siegel and Shuster. The teaser info on his site has since been taken down. (4/9/08 addendum: It's back up. 2/13/14 addendum: It's down again.)

Changing subjects: I was in Reno this past weekend. I gave ten presentations in three days, and the Reno Gazette-Journal kindly covered it. That link will probably go dead before long, so click through while the clicking through is good. That first photograph is the first time the book cover has appeared in non-pixelated print. If you're going to read this blog, you'll have to get used to meaningless statistics like that.

1 comment:

Graeme said...

It's funny... I almost wrote a film about Jerry and Joe around about the same time (as a film school project). I was using Dennis Dooley's book also as my primary research source. I didn't end up doing the project but I tried to entice one of my classmates to work with me on it and loaned him my copy of Superman at 50, a bunch of Toronto Star articles and my copy of Nemo which had the original Reign of the Supermen in it. Never got them back!

But you're right, there's something about it so compelling about it-- you could just do 1933-1946 and end it with Jerry (re-)meeting Joanne. That's how I'd have written it.